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Multi Criteria Decision Analysis [MCDA] – making the best of uncertainty for the public good

Today the BMJ publishes an authored analysis that recapitulates the claims of an editorial in the Lancet two weeks ago that our MCDA analysis of the comparative harms of nicotine products was unreliable [see earlier blogs]. What is remarkable is that the justification both commentaries use for this claim is not the data we reported but the fact that a few of the experts in our group of twelve had declared potential conflicts of interests [CoIs] in relation to tobacco harm reduction products. Also it was implied that the funder of the MCDA project, EuroSwiss Health, was paid by the ...

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Here’s Why We Hear So Many False Claims About Cannabis

As a neuropsychopharmacologist at Imperial College London, I study the impact of drug use on the brain. Like many scientists studying these issues, the results I detect in my lab have direct implications on how we can better equip ourselves as a society to deal with drugs.

On the whole, my many years of research on substance use has taught me a major overarching lesson: we are much more likely to demonize drugs for their negative effects than consider their neutral or potentially positive impacts. Or – in scientific terms – there is a built-in bias in the scientific literature, textbooks, and ...

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Blinded by smoke? Why do e-cigarettes provoke such irrational reactions?

A key question in the current debate about the growing use of e-cigarettes or ENDS [electronic nicotine delivery systems] is their safety as compared with cigarettes and other nicotine delivery systems such as snus. Because there can never be a randomised controlled trial of the different nicotine products and because of the huge health damage from cigarettes [6 million premature deaths per year world-wide] it is vital to provide the best available estimates of comparative harm to both users and health policy makers. Building on the success of our earlier estimates of comparative drug harms made using the MCDA approach ...

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Unholy Smoke? Why does the USA fear vaping?

As a research psychiatrist who has spent most of my professional life looking for ways to mitigate the harms of addictive drugs, the concept of replacing a very harmful drug such as heroin with a safer one such as buprenorphine (Suboxone/Subutex) makes perfect sense. However when the same logic is applied in the market place, rather than in the consulting room, a different logic seems to apply. Smoked tobacco is the leading cause of premature death in the world today killing around 6 million people per year. Since the discovery of its causing lung cancer and heart attacks in ...

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It’s Gardeners’ Question Time!

Today’s first question;- Why are there still journalists who try to cultivate public fears and hack back at the flourishing of public understanding?
 

The Mail on Sunday today invented a “storm” of controversy over Kew Gardens’ upcoming Intoxication Season, where the public will be recklessly endangered by learning things about plants with …(whisper it)… drugs in them. The comments posted below their laughable article show how easily readers see though this. The comments give the encouraging feeling that the attitude taken by the Mail here is losing its foothold in the UK. Given that, it would be totally unnecessary ...

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It’s time for a drug revolution

Who controls drugs? Who controls whether you take drugs, what you take, and what the consequences are? The answers are of course, pretty complex. Governments play a part as do drug producers and suppliers; your peers, your environment, all play a role, as does mention blind chance. But what I want to talk about today is you and your power. You are often written out of the picture when the media talk about drugs sweeping the nation, or taking lives, as if the people in the equation are just passive victims of monstrous molecules.   We think you can affect not ...

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The unexpected truth about drugs

Our job at DrugScience is bringing you the scientific truth about drugs. But the scientific truth isn’t a completed body of knowledge like a bible. When scientists talk about ‘facts’ or ‘truths’ they mean the consensus supported by the evidence. Some of these facts are pretty rock solid; we’re not going to find out next week that the melting point of heroin has changed;- , whereas some of our theories will continue to change and evolve as the evidence is collected and reviewed. This uncertainty and incompleteness is a strength of the scientific method,  not a weakness, in comparison ...

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“Ravaged by drugs”? Let’s spread facts, not fear; science, not stigma

Today the MailTelegraph and others have been featuring the vile and dehumanising "More than Meth" campaign, which invites us to gasp and be disgusted by the faces of Americans arrested for drug related offenses. The campaign shows mugshots of individuals chronologically as their appearance changes.

Unsurprisingly, the ghoulish coverage of this stigmatising campaign omits small-print disclaimer used by its creators that "The deterioration seen in consecutive photos is not necessarily the result of drugs or addiction..." and that "All persons are considered innocent of the crimes they were arrested for until proven guilty".

The uncritical comments below the coverage ...

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Michael Le Vell – double standards over the ‘use’ and ‘abuse’ of drugs

ISCD volunteer Richard Clifton takes a look at drugs in the news.

In recent years, it seems that Coronation Street is never very far away from a drug scandal, and now Michael Le Vell has become the latest in a long line of actors to be suspended from the soap after admitting to snorting cocaine. Craig Charles, Simon Gregson and Jimmi Harkishin have all been written out of the show in the past after being caught with drugs (all the actors have subsequently returned).

Newspaper headlines talked of Le Vell’s cocaine ‘abuse’ and his suspension was a direct result ...

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Death by cannabis?

(UPDATE 04/02/2014 - The Metro brought balance to their coverage by publishing letters today from Prof. David Nutt (see picture below) and other readers on the subject of the risks of cannabis. The ISCD will continue to make such media interventions where a scientific perspective is needed, but we rely on your continued support to do so. Thanks for your donations; the more we receive the more resources we will be able to dedicate to this aspect of our work.)


Today, the front page headline on the Metro newspaper read “The tragic proof that cannabis can kill”. Perhaps this ...

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